UK Travel Corridor
UK Travel Corridor

Canada Mandates Pre-Departure COVID-19 Testing, IATA Express Frustration

The Canadian Government has imposed that, as a travel requirement, all arriving travellers are to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test; attracting mixed reactions from airlines and industry groups. The heightened restrictions come as part of Canada’s efforts to prevent the community spread of the highly-infectious UK coronavirus strain.

From 7th January, all air passengers, five years of age or older, will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorised to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

Canada Mandatory COVID Test

Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Airlines will require such evidence before check-in.

“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians, as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”

Marc Garneau, Transport Minister

IATA Expresses “Deep Frustration” Over Testing Requirement

In a media statement, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called the Canadian Government’s testing mandate the “worst of both worlds”.

“The government is mandating that passengers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours before planned departure to Canada, while at the same time declining to lift existing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.”


Despite the IATA’s firm condemnation of Canada’s testing requirements, CEO Alexandre de Junaic called for pre-departure testing to be a vital part of COVID-era international travel at a September press briefing. At the time, Mr de Junaic noted that the implementation of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic COVID testing for all passengers before departure, as an alternative to quarantine measures, may well be in order to re-establish global air connectivity.